TWENTY ONE

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RAVENNA'S THOUGHTS WERE a jumbled mess of chaos and confusion

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RAVENNA'S THOUGHTS WERE a jumbled mess of chaos and confusion. Her arms remained crossed over her chest, and her eyes were glued to the earth. She walked aimlessly through the town, weaving in between houses to avoid the cheerful people within the market. She just couldn't concentrate if she had to constantly stop and say hello.

Her mind replayed what Vyses had said over and over again. "If you decide that he isn't teaching you enough," he had said, as his eyes flashed that bright crimson, "Or that you'd like to find another teacher, you know where to find me."

Another teacher. Vyses was another teacher. He knew magic, and could teach her how to control her ice.

The idea made her stomach twist. She wasn't sure whether Vyses would be the best teacher. Despite deciding to forgive and forget the ghost incident, she couldn't escape the fact that he hadn't believed her when Caelan had.

Yet Caelan also hadn't quite taught her anything yet, aside from a few minor life lessons concerning humans.

Her brows furrowed. A cheerful hello dragged her attention upward, and she realized that she'd absently wandered right into the market. The bookstore sat right in front of her. She forced a smile upon her face and greeted the person who had spoken. As they went about their day, she entered the bookstore.

Nothing had changed. The bookkeeper poked his head out from a stack of books and grinned. "Good morning, Ravenna! Any luck with that spell book?"

"It's been quite difficult," she admitted. A real smile appeared on her face and she traced the spine of a nearby book. "The book is very stubborn. Its managed to lock me out in several different ways."

"Has it let you in at all?" the bookkeeper laughed.

She nodded. "It let me read a passage yesterday. It was very short and confusing."

That seemed to interest the bookkeeper. He arched an eyebrow and asked, "Do you remember what it said exactly? The book wouldn't open at all for me."

"The passage described a demon of sorts," she said. "With bright red eyes. It apparently has powers of persuasion and shouldn't be trusted."

The bookkeeper nodded. "Demons should never be trusted. They only cause mischief."

Ravenna frowned and took a seat. "It refuses to open up for me now," she said. "And Caelan is busy with a new spell, an advanced spell that I can't help with. So, I decided to walk around this morning and visit the tavern."

"It sounds to me that you need a good book to read," the bookkeeper said. He tapped his fingers to his lips and then stood. She watched him waddle toward a shelf and skim over the spines of the books on it. His finger lightly touched their spines. He paused and pulled one from the shelf. "Here. You might like this one."

He held it out to her. She took it and skimmed through it. "What is it about?"

"It's fiction," he answered. "It's about an evil queen that rises to power over a prosperous kingdom, and how a brave knight takes her down. It's a very interesting tale of magic and fantasy. It even has a bit of romance."

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